Whether it’s a squirrel inspiring hope or an injured dove bringing heaven-sent comfort, these critter tales will encourage and entertain you.
Posted in , Apr 27, 2022
Dove from Above by Glenndon Genthner from Sneads Ferry, North Carolina
After a restless night, I lay helpless in my hammock, watching the flight path of a lone dove overhead. She swooped down, miscalculated and flew right into the fence nearby. She fell to the ground and hobbled into the grass to rest. I know how you feel, I thought. Normally I would have gone over to help her. But I was too weak to move. The doctors here in Ghana, where I was working as a traveling seminarian, weren’t yet sure what my illness was. My whole body ached. From my hammock, I watched the little dove suffering in the grass. She’s hurt and powerless, I thought. Just like me.
All day, I drifted in and out of a troubled sleep that left me more exhausted than ever. After dark I felt a movement on my chest. I turned my head to look and found the dove cradled against my neck. The dove cooed. I hummed a hymn in return. The dove and I lay together, taking comfort in each other’s presence. When I felt strong enough, I tended to the dove’s leg and wing.
Once the doctors were able to diagnose my condition—malaria and typhoid—I got treatment too. Eventually I got back on my feet. The dove flew away. We’d recovered together, with God making sure each of us had the other.
Old Cat’s Farewell by Judy “JJ” Burke Crowley from Colorado Springs, Colorado
For over 20 years Cat, our multicolored feline, was the undisputed queen of the house. Even our other pets—a dog and three more cats—knew Cat was special. When Cat rubbed against my legs, circling my ankles in an elaborate hello each morning, I stood completely still until she finished.
One evening, when I was on the phone, Cat came slowly into my office. She didn’t look well and didn’t stop to rub against my legs. I hung up right away, but it was too late. Cat had curled up behind my computer desk and died. She was 22.
I put her on my lap, stroking her fur. I couldn’t imagine the house without her. It seemed impossible she had slipped away so quickly, without a proper goodbye. Finally I laid her gently on the chair and went to call my husband. As I dialed the phone, I felt the familiar feel of a cat’s fur at my ankles. I looked down, expecting to see one of our other cats, but none of them were in the room. Old Cat had rubbed herself around my ankles to say hello to me every day for 22 years. Now she was saying goodbye.
Inspired by a Squirrel by Genevieve Ann Wakely from Griswold, Conneticut
After my divorce, finances became a constant worry. I was hopeful when I got a part-time job at a library, and relieved when I got a second part-time job at a homemaker agency. But am I going to be able to handle it all?I thought, gazing out the window one morning. It was a lot for me to take on.
My gaze landed on the maple tree outside. A fluffy squirrel was making his way down the trunk. It wasn’t easy—the squirrel was carrying a bread bun. The bun was twice the size of the squirrel’s head. How’s he going to manage that? I thought. Obviously he couldn’t slip up and down easily like the other squirrels with that bun in his mouth. I couldn’t help but root for him.
The squirrel shimmied down, carefully clinging to the bark of the tree. I held my breath. Careful, I thought, mentally cheering him on. One step at a time, little guy. When he finally reached the ground, he pulled the bun behind him. It’s not over yet, but you can do it! I thought, laughing. Obviously, this squirrel and I had a lot in common. I had my own giant dinner roll to carry and my own trees to climb. I moved from one window to another to follow the squirrel’s progress. Slowly but surely, he made it to the road and stopped to check for cars. Keep going, I thought. You’re almost there!
The squirrel got his meal safely across the road. When he disappeared into the bushes, I cheered. Then I went upstairs to get ready for the challenge that lay before me. You can do it, I told myself. God had showed me I could.
Deer-ly Departed by Susan Kissel-Maute from Buffalo, New York
Both my parents were gone. Selling their house, where my sister and I had grown up, seemed like a logical step. But now that we had an offer, I was hesitating. What would Dad want us to do? I thought, stopping by the cemetery one day at dusk. Dad was the one I’d always gone to for advice.
As I walked among the rows of headstones, I looked around for the deer that often visited this time of day. But today, when I needed their peaceful presence most, the deer were absent. I hadn’t realized how much I was looking forward to seeing them, and I arrived at my parents’ graves, more confused than ever. Dad, if selling the house is the right decision, give me a sign.
Something moved to my left. A beautiful buck emerged from the tree line and looked right at me. I expected the other deer to show themselves any minute. I cleaned up my parents’ graves and watered the flowers. I was brushing off the headstone when the buck moved a little closer. A doe joined him. It crossed my mind that maybe they had a message for me. “Are you letting me know we should take this offer?” I asked.
The buck bobbed its head up and down as if it had understood my question and wanted me to understand its answer. A peace came over me. It was time to let the house go. We would accept the offer, with a blessing from heaven.
An Ant-Sized Sign by Susan Topham from Sprague River, Oregon
My family raised livestock on a 1,500-acre ranch in Oregon. We had cows, llamas, donkeys and horses. In 2018, we’d faced some particularly tough times due to “water wars.” Our ranch was in an area that required irrigation, and the state was on the brink of cutting our water supply from the groundwater irrigation wells and creeks. Things were tough, to say the least, and didn’t look as if they’d get better anytime soon. Our ranch was in real danger of going out of business.
One sunny May afternoon, I made my way to our back porch for lunch. I sat on the swing set, gazing out at our beautiful land, the fields I’d grown up on, the animals I loved, knowing that my family might lose it all. I hung my head in sadness. Just then, I saw something move near my feet. I leaned down for a closer look and gasped. Five carpenter ants had gathered in the most amazing formation: a perfect cross!
The hardworking creatures reminded me that God was at work on the ranch too, no matter what the future held.
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